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INTERVIEW WITH INVESTIGATOR: Commerce Councilman Hugo Argumedo Refutes Ivan Altamirano and John Soria’s Story, Will Press Charges

Commerce Mayor John Soria (left) and Councilman Ivan Altamirano.

 

 

19th August 2019
BY BRIAN HEWS

Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively obtained a recording of an interview between a Riverside Sheriff’s investigator and Commerce Councilman Hugo Argumedo wherein Argumedo, while filing a report, completely refutes Commerce Mayor John Soria and Councilman Ivan Altamirano’s statements about the brawl that broke out last week at the Contract Cities Convention in Palm Desert.

HMG-LCCN first reported about the May 18 fight that involved Commerce Councilman Ivan Altamirano striking fellow Councilman Leonard Mendoza from behind knocking him to the ground unconscious; it was after that the larger meleé ensued.

Witnesses told HMG-LCCN that Soria ran up from behind and struck Argumedo, then stated that Mario Beltran and  his friend Louis Reyes, who owns Blue Icon Media, joined the fight sucker punching and kicking Argumedo and others who were trying to break up the fight.

Reyes sent a retraction letter to HMG-LCCN after the fight, when asked if he would go on the record (three times) that he did not hit Argumedo, Reyes did not respond.

Only hours after the fight, Soria and Altamirano issued statements that refuted witnesses’ accounts.

Argumedo told the investigator he wanted press charges against Soria and Altamirano, and, if any of the many witnesses come forward, press charges against Beltran and Reyes for assaulting a defenseless person, which is a much harsher penalty than simple assault.

Argumedo’s description of what occurred at the bar/cigar smoking area at the Renaissance Hotel and Spa matches the descriptions given to HMG-LCCN by other witnesses the morning after the brawl.

The fight begins

Argumedo, Hector Chacon, and others were sitting in an area having a casual conversation when Argumedo stated that Altamirano approached the group and asked, “if he could borrow Hector for a few minutes.”

“They [Altamirano and Mendoza] were already having a discussion and it looked like they were bringing Hector over to mediate, ”said Argumedo.

Chacon walked over with Altamirano to where Mendoza was, it was then Argumedo said, “you could already hear the conversation was getting heated, and I was about 30 yards away so everyone in the area could hear them too.”

“A few moments later I heard a thump [Mendoza hitting the ground] then you could hear the response of the crowd like wow….oh my God…, there was a lot of gasping.”

“I turned and saw Mendoza on the ground, I got up and went over to him. Ivan [Altamirano] was standing over him and was gesturing.”

Argumedo said he approached Mendoza to check on him, he could see his eyes looking up, “he was motionless, it was weird, I asked him if he was ok, but there was no response, I thought he was dying.”

 

Leonard Mendoza on the ground after being struck.

 

Argumedo then saw Altamirano moving toward him at which time he stood up and attempted to defuse the situation.

“I never touched him but I told him no more, that is when Ivan threw a punch at me, he hit me in the eye, I turned and hit him twice with my left hand.”

 

 

It was at that point that Argumedo told the investigator that Commerce Mayor Soria jumped in the fight.

That was in direct conflict with Soria’s public statement where he said  he “tried to defuse the situation,  pulling Altimirano away to a safe distance” and how “he and Altamirano were attacked from behind by two individuals.”

Argumedo continued, “out of nowhere the Mayor [Soria] comes and strikes me, I moved back and hit him three times, two lefts and a right to the head.”

“Next thing I know there were two other individuals that struck me from behind and I blacked out, I then remember looking up.”

Argumedo said that many witnesses later told him that disgraced former Bell Gardens Councilman Mario Beltran and his cannabis partner Luis Reyes were the people that hit him from behind and then kicked him while he was on the ground.

Mario Beltran

 

 

“They also told me it was Altamirano who came from behind and coldcocked Mendoza.”

Argumedo’s said his face and hand was injured after the fight, and that his girlfriend took pictures which they sent to the investigator via email. Argumedo also said his ribs were very sore after the brawl.

After the fight, Altamirano and Soria issued statements and were posting on social media trying to turn the whole story around.

“That’s when I had to come forward,” said Argumedo.

The investigator then asked Argumedo if he was going to file charges, Argumedo indicated he would.

Assault charges will be filed against Soria and Altamirano, but Beltran and Reyes could be charged with striking a defenseless person, which carries a much harsher penalty.

“This is perfect information, it has helped out a lot,” the investigator said, “we did not get really good information, we have some piecing together but it has been hard.

“No one is talking.”

 

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